How to Find State Grants for College
A college education is a tremendously expensive endeavor that few students can afford without some sort of financial assistance. When you consider that on average, a four-year college degree costs more than $20,000 per year at a private college, it’s easy to see why so many students are in need of financial assistance.
While in-state tuition at state colleges and universities is about half that much, the costs are still much higher than an average 18-year-old who just graduated from high school can hope to afford. Even students that come from upper class families can have difficulty funding their entire education, especially when you factor in the cost of tuition, fees, books and study materials, and room and board if the student is not living at home with mom and dad.
The problem becomes even greater if the student plans to attend an out of state college, an Ivy League college or wants to pursue further education. In fact, the additional education is a requirement for students who want to become doctors, lawyers or pursue some other career that requires more than a four-year degree.
Post Secondary Education Funding Options
While finding the money to fund a college education that will allow the student to pursue the career of his or her choice can be a challenge it is by no means impossible. There are college savings plans, scholarships, student loans and even grants that are specifically meant to fund post-secondary education.
A grant is usually a monetary gift to be used for a specific purpose and it generally does not need to be repaid. In the case of college funding, a grant would be a monetary gift to be used for the purpose of funding all or part of a college education. In some cases the terms of a grant for a college education may require some sort of service commitment upon completion of your education.
Grants for college funding typically come from a government entity, whether federal or state. People typically think of federal government grants such as the Pell Grant when thinking of sources for college money; but many don’t realize that most states also have grant programs which are funded by the state’s lottery. These state grants are created specifically to help the students who reside in that state.
Type of Grants
While grants are quite often funded by the government there are also grants that colleges and universities as well as both public and private companies and other organization’s fund. To find what’s available you’ll want to search for grants under a wide breadth of criteria including degree level, field of study, minority status, gender, income level, or some type of special needs classification.
College education grants are often awarded based upon financial need, rather than individual merit, and the competition can be fierce. However, there is also a lot of grant money available, making the effort of pursuing grant money quite worthwhile.
As a general rule, states provide educational support based upon financial need to a wide variety of students, including:
- Students pursuing a field of study that is considered to be in high need such as nursing or teaching are likely to find grants that are specific to their needs.
These types of state grants often have a trade off similar to what we discussed above where in return for the grant money you agree to some sort of service commitment once you’ve earned your degree. In the case of nursing or teaching, upon completion of your education you agree to work for an understaffed state-run medical facility or for a school that is considered underserved. Nursing and teaching are just two examples of high-need occupations, there are others that vary based upon the state in which you reside.
- State-funded grants for minorities are pretty widely available, particularly for students of African American, Asian, Native American or Hispanic decent.
- Grant money for female students regardless of race or ethnic decent.
- Students who are considered low-income or otherwise disadvantaged are also likely to find help funding their college education with state-funded grants.
How to Locate the Grants Available In Your State
There’s no easy answer for finding the state grant money available. The funding and eligibility varies by state, as does which state government office is responsible for administering the grant awards. Below are a number of different possibilities to look into for information about state-funded college grants in your particular state.
- You can start with the state website, but you’re likely to get even further by placing a call to the particular department in your state that is most likely to be responsible for grant money. If the department you reach can’t help you, they should be able to point you in the right direction so you can speak to the correct people to get the information you need.
- On a state’s website look for links to education, board of education, social services, or a listing of state agencies that may identify the types of educational grants and application processes for your state.
If you don’t know your state’s website address it’s almost always as simple as typing the name of your state into your search engine, or use your address bar to type in your state’s name.gov
- Use the search box that’s on your state’s website to more quickly locate information about college grants that may be available. Try searching for college grants, college grant money, education funding, college money, and other similar key words to see what you can find.
- If you’re still in high school, ask your guidance counselor, teachers or principal for guidance. They quite often get notification of grant programs so they can provide the information to the students who would benefit from being able to receive some state grant funds to help pay for college.
- Check with the financial aid office at the college or university that you attend or will be attending. They exist to assist with helping students to fund their education so they’ll be able to point you in the right direction for finding the grants in your state that you may qualify for as well as other types of financial aid sources.
- While this is a long shot, it’s worth a few minutes to check it out. Because many of the states grants are funded by proceeds from the state’s lottery, a good place to start looking is with your state’s lottery. Check out their website to see if they have a section that outlines how the funds are used.
- You can also do a general Internet search for state college grant money, however the results may be misleading and you’ll most likely need to move past the first several search results to get to information that is more than very general information.
It may take some time and digging through a wide variety of information, but you can find hidden resources that others who don’t take the time may miss. Obviously, the fewer people who know about a particular program the less fierce the competition and the better your odds are for receiving the grant money.
As you’re glancing through the results, you may want to pay special attention to website address that end in .gov which are most likely a government page that will have information about government grant sources; or pages that end in .edu which may be colleges and universities that are providing students with some specific information about how to find grants that are specific to that school.
Other Grants Available Within Your State
In addition to grants that are funded by your state’s government, there are more than likely other types of grants that are available to college students who are in your state. County and local governments in many areas also have programs to provide assistance to students that reside within their borders. You can find out about these sorts of programs by following the suggestions provided for learning about state funding options.
For example, look into the state’s major companies to see if they have a grant or other college funding program. Many companies see tremendous value in investing in the education of future leaders and therefore have college funding programs including scholarships, trusts and grants. Typically, the more vested interest the company has in the state and its residents, the more likely they are to have programs to support the education of its residents. These programs may also have a service commitment, where you’d be required to work for the company for a set amount of time once you’ve completed your education.
There are also colleges that have co-op programs where you can work within your field of study while you’re attending school. And, depending upon the employer, you may receive some tuition reimbursement benefits as well which will help to fund your education and earning your degree. These types of programs are most often available in engineering, technology, and science based programs. Your guidance counselor and or financial aid office should be able to provide you with information about any of these types of programs that may be available in your area.